Bailey retires after 56 years of service … dog years.
At 2-years-of-age in 2002 Delta Dog Bailey and owner Louise MacLeod first strolled into John Hunter Children’s Hospital for orientation, while the other dogs paused at the door not wanting to enter, Bailey strolled in as if he were meant to be there.
Now 8 years on Bailey will make his final rounds of John Hunter Children’s Hospital and at 80-dog-years-of-age he leaves with a countless number of children thankful for his presence.
Bailey’s owner Louise said over the year’s doctors, nurses and patients have all asked if Bailey was around at various times, sometimes for a patient being adjusted in traction or support during a dressing change.
Louise does recount one special patient Bailey had an affinity with.
We had been visiting a patient who had been in hospital on and off for long periods over a couple of years and she had come to look forward to Bailey’s visits,” Louise said.
She said that when Bailey visited it made her feel special and forget that she was in hospital, Bailey also looked forward to her hugs.
Bailey regularly attended her physiotherapy sessions, at first he was worried the Physio was hurting her and stood between them. This made his new friend feel special and their friendship grew, she would often just sit with Bailey and tell him about her day.
Over time Bailey’s special friend gradually grew weak and on one particular Wednesday she was extremely unwell and on oxygen. When we walked into the room she sat up, removed her mask and called to Bailey, ‘Bailey has come to say goodbye,’ she said. They cuddled until she fell asleep.
Bailey and I both said goodbye and as we left I knew we wouldn’t see her again. She past away a few hours later,” Louise said.
The impact Bailey has had on patients highlights the important role Delta Dogs and other alternative therapies play within John Hunter Children’s Hospital.
For Bailey though this isn’t the end, following his retirement party and as he waves goodbye to John Hunter Children’s Hospital, he will continue to entertain the residents of Hillside Nursing Home where the pace is a little slower.